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Cacti continue to amaze first-time and long-time growers because of their ability to live for an extended period, despite the harsh environmental conditions. However, some avid cacti growers reached the point when they also want to propagate their own cacti variety. They might be saving a cactus that they love so much from dying, or they’re expanding their collection.

No matter their reason, the point is it’s not impossible to grow and propagate your own cacti breed. There are various ways to go about this, and in this article, we’ll share how you can do it through offsets, leaf cuttings, stems, and seeds. 

Generally, propagation refers to the process of growing new plants from those that you already have. When you’re in the wild, this is done by seeds. It usually starts with flowering, pollination, down to fertilization and seed formation. The cacti and succulent natural habitats naturally decline.

Because of this, there’s a need to maintain its species by cultivating and propagating them until there’s no threat to their survival. Propagation can also add charm to these growing plants. Hobbyists and growers who have tried propagating cacti found it engaging and highly rewarding. 

What Is Cacti Propagation

Based on the definition of propagation stated above, cacti propagation means growing a cacti variety using its existing parts. The said parts could be an offset, leaf-cutting, or stem. There are reasons why a certain cacti grower wants to propagate its own variety. For one, it could be a rare cacti variety, and because of its rarity, it would be hard to get or buy it from somewhere. Therefore, propagating more cacti from the solo piece you have is a logical and reasonable choice in this case. 

Cacti growers also propagate varieties to add to their collection. Instead of buying more cacti for your garden, you learn how to grow and cultivate them on your own. In the end, aside from getting free and as many cacti as you would want, you would also feel satisfied because you were able to make them from a small part of the other plant. This is particularly true for avid cacti growers who often consider growing their own cacti variety to move forward in their cacti growing journey. 

Some cacti growers also try propagating cacti varieties because their precious cacti might have been on the verge of dying. However, since some cacti are beyond saving, especially if the leaves and stems get excessively dried up, the only way to mitigate the damage is to cut off the infected part, clean the plant, and propagate it. 

Benefits of Propagating Cacti

There are plenty of benefits to propagating cacti, and one of these is the sense of satisfaction that you’re able to grow and create something out of a decaying part of a plant. Hobbyists and long-time cacti growers can relate to this since most consider propagation as the next step and upgrade their interests in cacti. 

Another benefit you could enjoy is the fact that you get to save money. Instead of buying cacti varieties to add to their collection, they can propagate them and have them displayed soon after they’re repotted. Even if it’s a rare variety, they won’t have a hard time replicating them. 

Lastly, the propagation of cacti allows you to manage your collection quickly. It doesn’t matter what variety or type you want to add; you can easily and readily do so by propagation. By choosing the cacti variety you wish to propagate, you are already giving it a new chance at life. 

How Does Propagating Cacti Work

How Does Propagating Cacti Work

There are different ways of propagating cacti. One of the easiest ways is by propagating them through seeds. The first thing you need to do is allow the seeds to germinate naturally in its polyethylene bag. Then, once you see them matured enough, you can take them out of the bag and move them to a pot. From there, you can naturally allow them to grow. 

Aside from propagating cacti by seeds, you can also use other parts of the plant for it to reproduce. It doesn’t matter if you’re using its leaves, stem, or cuttings; you need to remove the defective part first, clean the part you intend to regrow and allow them to dry before replanting or propagating them. 

Methods of Propagating Cacti

  • Propagating from cuttings: This cacti propagation method uses stem cuttings to regrow the plant. After taking the cuttings from the cacti you’re aiming to propagate, it’s time to let them callous and dry. Then, new stems will naturally grow from the stem end. 
  • Propagating from seeds: As mentioned in the preceding paragraph, one of the easiest ways is propagating them through seeds. The first thing you need to do is allow the seeds to germinate naturally in its polyethylene bag. Once you see them matured enough, you can take them out of the bag and move them to a pot. From there, you can naturally allow them to grow. 
  • Propagating from offsets/offshoots: This is an asexual means of propagation wherein the plant is groomed to grow lateral offsets or shoots. Since not all cacti species can grow these offshoots, you have to ensure that the cacti you’re propagating in this manner are members of the echinopsis and mammillaria species. 
  • Propagating by grafting: This propagation method allows you to remove a piece of one species and attach them to another species. You need to ensure that both attached plants are compatible. You also need a hardy rootstock. One of the many benefits of grafting is to produce pest and disease-resistant stems. 

When Not to Propagate Cacti

While propagating succulents doesn’t require a specific season, there are two conditions wherein you should skip any plants of cultivating them. 

  • Cacti may love sunlight during a heatwave, but it’s an entirely different thing when they’re grown during a heatwave. They may tolerate bright light but not overexposure to extreme heat. As a result, they might end up with a bad case of cacti sunburn. And you know what happens when these plants suffer from sunburn, right? Yes, they might die from it. They’ll change in color until they slowly die. 
  • During frost or freezing temperatures: Aside from extreme heat, you might also want to postpone your cacti propagation season until the freezing or frosting temperature is over. Like extreme heat, extreme cold is also not good for your cacti as it deprives them of the sunlight they so need. 

How to Propagate Cacti From Cuttings

How to Propagate Cacti From Cuttings

Step 1 – Choose the cacti plant that you want to propagate

From the cacti plant, you intend to use for propagation, choose the stem you feel is best to cut and regrow. Make sure to clean the part and free it from pests, diseases, and wilting. 

Step 2 – Cut the offset

Ensure that you cut the offset by 1.5 to 2 inches long. Higher offsets than their parent cacti are bound to grow longer and more robust. 

Step 3 – Let the pup dry

After cutting the offset, air dry the cuttings for two to three days. Make sure that they’re completely dried before you repot them. 

Step 4 – Repot and grow

When you repot your cuttings, make sure you will now use the right pot and potting mix. Go for pots that have excellent drainage capacity to keep the water from stagnating. Also, if you’re unsure as to what kind of potting mix to use, go for cacti mixes. Once transplanted, water them and give them enough sunlight. 

 

How to Propagate Cacti From a Pad

Step 1 – Start with clean tools

Always disinfect your gardening tools before using them, as they may infect your cacti and other plants. Stay away from pruning shears to cut your cacti as they have jagged edges. Instead, go for a simple knife or blade, as these are perfect for the cut you’re aiming for. 

Step 2 – Protect your hands

Make sure to use gloves when propagating cacti since the spikes might hurt your fingers. 

Step 3 – Cut the pads

Choose a cacti pad to cut. Use a piece of cloth or tongs to break them from the main plant. As you choose the pad to cut, stay away from those with visible signs of discoloration, disease, and stress. 

Step 4 – Let the cactus pad dry

After cutting the cacti pad, air dry it if for two to three days. Make sure that they’re completely dried before you repot them. 

Step 5 – Repot and grow

When you repot your cuttings, make sure you will now use the right pot and potting mix. Go for pots that have excellent drainage capacity to keep the water from stagnating. Also, if you’re unsure as to what kind of potting mix to use, go for cacti mixes. Once transplanted, water them and give them enough sunlight. 

 

How to Propagate Cacti From Offshoots

Step 1 – Choose the cacti plant that you want to propagate

From the cacti plant, you intend to use for propagation, choose the offshoot you feel is best to cut and regrow. Make sure to clean the part and free it from pests, diseases, and wilting. 

Step 2 – Cut the offset

Ensure that you cut the offset by 1.5 to 2 inches long. Higher offshoots than their parent cacti are bound to grow longer and stronger. 

Step 3 – Let the pup dry

After cutting the offshoot, air dry the cuttings for two to three days. Make sure that they’re completely dried before you repot them. 

Step 4 – Repot and grow

When you repot your cuttings, make sure you will now use the right pot and potting mix. Go for pots that have excellent drainage capacity to keep the water from stagnating. Also, if you’re unsure as to what kind of potting mix to use, go for cacti mixes. Once transplanted, water them and give them enough sunlight. 

 

How to Propagate Cacti From Columnar Cactus Cuttings

Step 1 – Start with clean tools

Always disinfect your gardening tools before using them, as they may infect your cacti and other plants. Stay away from pruning shears to cut your cacti as they have jagged edges. Go for a simple knife or blade, as these are perfect for the cut you’re aiming for. To ensure that your columnar cuttings are clean, you can choose to wash them with soap. 

Step 2 – Protect your hands

Again, make sure to use gloves when propagating cacti since the spikes might hurt your fingers. 

Step 3 – Choose a columnar cutting you want to propagate

From the cacti plant, you intend to use for propagation, choose the columnar cutting that looks clean and healthy. Whatever you choose, make sure to free it from pests, diseases, and wilting.

Step 4 – Cut it clean


Use a sharp knife or blade to cut the part you need from the main plant. As you choose the pad to cut, stay away from those with visible signs of discoloration, disease, and stress. 

Step 5 – Let the columnar cutting dry

After cutting the part you need, air dry it for two to three days. Make sure that they’re completely dried before you repot them. 

Step 6 – Repot and grow

Again, when you repot your cuttings, make sure you will now use the right pot and potting mix. Also, take note that mixing succulent soil in the right proportions will be beneficial for your plant. Go for pots that have excellent drainage capacity to keep the water from stagnating. Also, if you’re unsure as to what kind of potting mix to use, go for cacti mixes. Once transplanted, water them and give them enough sunlight. 

 

How to Propagate Cacti by Grafting

Step 1 – Prepare all your gardening and grafting tools

It’s easier to graft when everything you need is within arms’ reach. Here are the tools you need to have — gloves, electrical tape, rubber bands, alcohol, sharp knife, and cacti. Remember to always disinfect your gardening tools before using them, as they may infect your cacti and other plants. Go for a simple knife or blade, as these are perfect for the cut you’re aiming for.

Step 2 – Choose the cacti you want to graft

From the cacti plant, you intend to use for propagation. As mentioned above, you need to ensure that both attached plants are compatible. You also need a hardy rootstock. One of the many benefits of grafting is to produce pest and disease-resistant stems. Whatever you choose, make sure to free it from pests, diseases, and wilting.

Step 3 – Ready your rootstock

Ensure that you cut a few more inches above the potting mix. You’ll be using the beheaded cactus as your rootstock. After which, also cut the scion. This time, make sure to cut off the stem by at least 1-inch in diameter. Place the cut-off part on the rootstock. Ensure that the vascular cambium of both plants touches each other. This will allow the plant to graft. Secure the attached parts with a rubber band or electrical tape. 

Step 4 – Wait for them to attach

You need to wait for two months before you’ll see the fully grafted cacti. When that time comes, remove the rubber band or electrical tape. Take care of the plant. 

Do’s and Don’ts When Propagating Cacti

Do’s

Don’ts

  • Collect and repot your cacti before they have entirely air-dried. 
  • Go for realistically looking faux plants instead of real cacti. 
  • Overwater your newly propagated cacti. 
  • Use jagged-edged tools when cutting your cacti for propagation. 

FAQ About Propagating Cacti

FAQ About Propagating Cacti

Can you cut off a piece of cactus and plant it?

Yes, you can. This is a process called propagating cacti plants from stem cuttings. As mentioned above, after taking the cuttings from the cacti you’re aiming to propagate, it’s time to let them be calloused and dry. New stems will naturally grow from the stem end. 

How long does it take to propagate cactus?

After your cacti plants are cut and propagated, give them four to six weeks to take root. After a month, you can replant them in an appropriately sized pot.

Can you root a cactus in water?

Yes, you can most certainly can since cacti can be rooted in various mediums like water. Using the water-rooting method, you can get more plants as you don’t have to bury the roots in dirt. 

How long does it take a cactus cutting to the root?

It will take them four to six weeks before showing roots. Only then can you repot them. 

How do you propagate flowering cactus?

You can follow the grafting propagation method discussed above if you want to propagate flowering cactus. 

Can you take cuttings when in flower?

Yes, you also can, but you need to remove the flowers from their cuttings when they’re still fresh. You also need to ensure that the cut flower stem is at least five to 15 centimeters long, with at least two leaf nodes set. 

How do you encourage the roots to grow from cuttings?

You can make a gentle rooting solution by dissolving aspirin in clean water. Also, give your plant time to acclimatize to the soil and water. Do this slowly for four to five weeks to hasten the root growing process of the plants. 

When should I take cuttings?

While propagating succulents doesn’t require a specific season, there are two conditions wherein you should skip any plants of cultivating them — during a heatwave and extremely cold weather. 

To recap, cacti may love sunlight, but it’s an entirely different thing when you’re exposing succulents to direct sunlight or they’re grown during a heatwave. They may tolerate bright light but not overexposure to extreme heat. They might end up with a bad case of cacti sunburn. Under this severe condition, they’ll change in color until they slowly die. 

Aside from extreme heat, you might also want to postpone your cacti propagation season until the freezing or frosting temperature is over. Like extreme heat, extreme cold is also not good for your cacti as it deprives them of the sunlight they so need. 

Conclusion

Whether you’re growing decorative indoor cacti, versatile Haworthia succulents, the world’s best pink succulents, or premium flowering succulents, you need to be a responsible grower to allow your plants to thrive. Besides caring for them, you also need to know how to save them when they’re in danger. So take note of the propagation methods we shared above and extend the lives of your beloved cacti and succulents.

Photos from: Luoxi / depositphotos.com and Irrmago / depositphotos.com.